Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $399,992)
Enhancing Access to Holistic Civil Legal Services for Domestic Violence Victims
with Limited English Proficiency
Essex County Family Justice Center is the Lead Applicant with project partner Essex-Newark Legal Services (ENLS), on this Category: 1 Direct Services OVC application. The mission of Essex County Family Justice Center (ECFJC) is to enhance the safety and autonomy of domestic violence victims and their children by providing accessible and coordinated service in one location. The mission of Essex-Newark Legal Services includes providing free legal assistance to more than 4,000 households annually, with a focus on addressing the critical legal needs of its community’s lowest-income victims.
Since 2010, ECFJC has provided comprehensive domestic violence services for nearly 10,000 victims, up to 1,000 annually; 24-25% of whom have limited English proficiency (LEP). ECFJC, with nearly 30 onsite and offsite partners, provides comprehensive, trauma-informed, culturally appropriate services including crisis intervention, safety planning, emergency aid, connections to public benefits, emergency housing and shelter services, medical/behavioral health assessments and referrals to vetted healthcare providers, counseling, law enforcement, prosecution assistance, and civil legal assistance. Project partners include Essex Vicinage - Family Court Domestic Violence Unit, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, and civil legal organizations.
In addition to provision of comprehensive domestic violence services, the project includes assisting victims address their range of custody, family law, immigration, housing, and other concerns related to victimization. Essex Newark Legal Services, an ECFJC partner since 2010, handles cases which impact victims’ basic survival and safety, including providing eviction defense to prevent homelessness, helping those destitute· to secure or maintain public benefits and other resources necessary for survival. The proposed project unites ECFJC’s Bi-Lingual Civil Legal Advocates, a Bi-Lingual Attorney, and, for the first time, a Bi-Lingual Peer Care Manager, to comprise a trauma-informed project team. Project focus is on expanding services for victims with LEP who represent their state’s most at-risk survivors of domestic violence assault. Project implementation includes an extended outreach initiative to reach victims and potential victims in their spoken language and includes provision of best-practices in training and technical assistance for agencies that currently collaborate with ECFJC or represent marginalized populations with LEP.
The project also encompasses assisting victims with translating, completing, and submitting criminal justice-related forms/applications, and those for public benefits, victim compensation, housing, employment, etc. The ultimate objective is to ensure that victims with LEP can communicate with advocates, attorneys, law enforcement, and other providers to fully understand their options, obtain needed resources, and take steps necessary to secure peace of mind and safety.